Thursday, September 30, 2010


Looking Back
by Ambeth Ocampo
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

ARTEMIO RICARTE’S “Himagsikan nang manga Pilipino laban sa Kastila” was published in Yokohama, Japan, in 1927. The imprint given is “Karihan Café.” Ricarte’s wife ran a restaurant visited by Filipinos traveling in Japan. If one was homesick or tired of Japanese fare, Karihan Luvimin on 149 Yamasitacho, Yokohama, was the place for Pinoy food and a meeting with a living relic of the Philippine Revolution and a veteran of the Philippine-American War.

For a number of years now, I have sought the assistance of the Philippine Embassy in Japan to negotiate with the owner of the building where Karihan Luvimin once stood so we can install a historical marker there. There has been little progress on this project because our contacts in Japan are more interested in Rizal than Ricarte.
Then there is a memorial to “Ri-ka-ru-te” at Yamashita Park in Yokohama erected by the Philippines-Japan Friendship Society in 1972. It consists of a block of granite with a relief of Ricarte’s pouting face. It is ironic that when you take a souvenir photograph of the Ricarte Memorial here, its background happens to be the golden arches of McDonald’s, which is quite apt for a man who fought long and hard against “American Imperialism.”

Yokohama was a refuge not only for Ricarte but also for Mariano Ponce whose house should really be marked because it was visited by his friend Dr. Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925). Ponce, a friend of Rizal, is better known as a member of the Reform Movement in Spain, but his later life is not well known. He wrote one of the first biographies of Sun Yat-sen and published this in 1912.

It would be relevant for us to dig up stories about other Filipino expatriates in Japan in the 19th century and the early 20th century to provide some historical perspective to the many Filipinos today who live and work there. Many young Filipinos are growing up in foreign lands and it is essential that history be used to give them a sense of their roots in the Philippines.

Regarding Ricarte’s stay in Yokohama, we have photographs and some documentary material. His return to the Philippines in December 1903 we know from Philippine National Police and Philippine Constabulary reports.

Ricarte tried to interest the men once prominent in the revolution against Spain to rise anew against the US and was disappointed that he could not enlist their support. In the stenographic notes of his interrogation he said the following:

Ricarte called on Emilio Aguinaldo a number of times and said, “I reproached Aguinaldo for having sworn allegiance to the American government and not having preferred death, and for having deceived the people and caused so many deaths. I also explained to him the idea which had brought me, and he answered that he did not wish to take part in the revolution seeing that the people did not accept him now. Lastly, I asked him for a sum of money for my aid and he denied me, stating he was poor.”

Ricarte called on Pio del Pilar in Peñafrancia, Paco. He narrated: “We held a conference which touched upon the situation as it then was and upon my plans. Pio del Pilar having adhered to them all asked to accompany me, which I did not accept because I did not trust him, and I advised him to remain in Manila until such time as he should see that the people responded.”

Ricarte called on Gregorio Aglipay in Calle Espeleta, Santa Cruz, Manila, and they conferred for an hour after which the founding head of Iglesia Filipina Independiente, “advised me to surrender myself, but with the view of my attitude he told me to do what I thought best. Gregorio Aglipay is a relative of mine, a third cousin, a native of my town [Batac, Ilocos Norte], and I exercise great influence over him because he respects me.”
Ricarte then called on another prominent Ilocano, Isabelo de los Reyes, in Tondo where they, “had a long conference during which he tried to dissuade me from my intentions, picturing the situation of the country to me, assuring me the people will not respond. I insisted on my ideas and would not let Isabelo de los Reyes convince me, the conference terminating in this manner.”

Reading the above made me wonder why the fervor for independence seemed to have cooled except for Ricarte. Perhaps people wanted a break after the revolution and the Philippine-American War then belittled as the “Philippine Insurrection.” Maybe these veterans of two wars believed in the overweight William Howard Taft and expected the Philippines to be granted independence after a short period of training in American-style government.

Ricarte recounted a 10-minute meeting he had with Dr. Dominador Gomez thus: “Dr. Gomez showed himself surprised at my coming and after hearing the explanations I gave him of the purpose of my return from Hong Kong, he advised me not to carry them into effect because without the necessity of shedding blood, the independence of the country would be accomplished in three or four years since Taft had set up the doctrine of ‘the Philippines for the Filipinos,’ but as I expressed myself as not disposed to recede he advised me to return to Hong Kong since nothing could be accomplished, seeing that the Filipinos would not second me.”

One can only imagine the frustration Ricarte felt when nobody seemed interested in fighting against the US. He would get the same reception when he returned to the Philippines with the Japanese in 1941.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

'Quo vadis?’

Theres The Rub
by Conrado de Quiros
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

WHEN CORAZON Aquino flew to the United States in July 1986, she was coming off a high point. The euphoria from the Edsa People Power Revolution was still there, and despite opposition from Left and Right, the rebels in the hills and the rebels in the camps, she pretty much had the nation behind her. When her son Benigno Aquino III flew there last Monday, he was coming off a low point. Despite having the nation still behind him, he was being buffeted by criticism right and left, at home and abroad, his enemies openly questioning his ability to rule.

When Cory flew to the US four months after she came to power, she was coming off a high note. Her popularity was so immense people were telling her to repudiate the fraudulent debts, or at least get the banks to condone them, the US would be at pains to refuse her, or go against her. When P-Noy flew to the US last Monday, he was coming off a low note. His justice secretary had just given the world to understand that that based on the results of her investigation heads truly ought to roll, some of them belonging to close friends of his.

When the icon of democracy flew to the US after toppling a tyrant, she strode upon the world stage and performed brilliantly, aided in no small way by brilliant speechwriters, and came home in triumph. When the hope of decency went to the US last Monday after dislodging a tyrant, he was at pains to find a message that would appease the world, let alone bring it to its knees, little helped by a lack of brilliant speechwriters.
There is a bright note to all this, which is no small irony. Cory came home in triumph, but a few months later met with a coup by Juan Ponce Enrile and company, former allies who resented the fact that she, and not they, were the toast of the world. P-Noy will come home in triumph or disappointment (we will know soon enough) but he can at least be assured no armed group will try to wrest power from him. He can be assured further that if one does, Juan Ponce Enrile and company, former foes, will be there to see him through.
P-Noy’s trip abroad is an especially good time to ask where his government is going. I myself remain confident that despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that have darkened his sky, he will still do this country proud, he will still make this country proud of him. The decency is there, the earnestness is there, the willingness is there, and those are ramparts that can stand the most strenuous sieges. But surviving is one thing, prevailing is another. He wants to go beyond the first and do the second, he will have to solve two particular problems that have brought his government to a crawl, if not a standstill. And he will have to do it soon.

The first is to stop having two groups of horses pulling his government in opposite directions. That was a horrendous form of execution in ancient times, which resulted in the criminal quite literally being torn limb from limb. The problem is not just that P-Noy has crowned too many heads in several departments—Communications and the DILG are the egregious examples, shown up by the hostage crisis—which is bad enough. You have too many people in charge, you will have no one in charge. You have too many people being responsible, you will have everyone taking the credit and no one accepting the blame. If the hostage crisis had ended well, you think anyone of them would be saying they had nothing to do with it, they were out of the loop?

But worse, P-Noy has crowned too many heads in several departments who violently dislike each other. It’s not just petty jealousies, though there’s that too, and though there’s more pettiness than jealousy. It’s also that they belong to two camps that want to take over government. The division, and enmity, between the “Balay camp” and the “Samar camp,” between Mar Roxas’ boys and P-Noy’s chums, which the media have reported, are real. A policy of appeasing both sides won’t work. Never has. You try to please everyone, you won’t please anyone. Least of all Juan de la Cruz, who should really be the only one a president—especially a People’s President like P-Noy—ought to be pleasing.

The second, which is far less obvious, is for him to recover his Edsa roots. It’s not just that I’ve raised this criticism from Day One of P-Noy’s government, it’s that I’ve raised this criticism from Day One of P-Noy’s campaign. From the start, the temptation to succumb to trapo politics was there, and today’s squabbles between the two parties inside P-Noy’s government is a particularly ugly case of it. This is a war between trapos, or between two groups of people who have lost their sense of something bigger than themselves, if at all they had it to begin with.

If that war reveals anything in fact, it is the sheer and utter lack of representation in P-Noy’s government of the volunteer groups that were the heart of his campaign. The same volunteer groups that saw P-Noy as the right candidate: If not for them, Butch Abad and company would have campaigned to the bitter end for Mar Roxas for president, and truly found a bitter end. The same volunteer groups that saw Edsa as the right cause: If not for them, P-Noy would not have become larger than life, he would have become smaller than Gibo. The same volunteer groups that made the Impossible Dream possible once more: If not for them, P-Noy would not be president.

The first in fact is just a symptom of the second. It’s not just that P-Noy’s government is losing its motor, it is that it is losing its GSP. It’s not just that it is losing its capacity for motion, it is that it is losing its sense of direction. P-Noy’s trip to the US is truly an especially good time to reflect on the bigger journey of life and government, and ask:

Quo vadis?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Modern-day slavery

by Val G. Abelgas

Lately, we have been reading disturbing reports of Filipino workers being recruited in the Philippines purportedly for good-paying jobs in the United States and Canada, only to find themselves exploited and abused by unscrupulous recruiters on a distant shore where they feel hopeless and helpless. And I thought slavery was abolished after a bloody civil war in 1865 with the 13th amendment to the US Constitution.
Just consider the following news reports this year alone to gauge how prevalent human trafficking into the United States from the Philippines has been:

• A Filipino couple, identified as Maximino “Max” Morales, 44, and his wife, Melinda Morales, 46, were arrested by the FBI in April in Paso Robles after an investigation found that the couple smuggled Filipino nationals and forced them to work as caregivers in their nursing homes for little or no pay. The federal complaint alleged that the victims were recruited by the couple with promises of work in the United States, and then smuggled into the US on transit visas. Once the victims arrived in the United States, they were forced to work entire days for as many as seven days a week, with little pay. Additionally, the couple confiscated the victims’ passports and threatened to harm their families and/or deport them if they left prior to paying off their debt. According to the affidavit, the caregivers worked 24-hour shifts with no regular days off, and slept in closets, hallways, and garages with no heat.

• A Philippine-based recruiting company, Universal Placement International (UPI), with satellite office in Los Angeles, California, and its Filipino owner, Lourdes “Lulu” Navarro, were ordered last April 16 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to pay an “estimated $1.8-million in illegally-charged placement fees, a well as a $500 fine and $7,500 in attorney fees for allegedly cheating 200 Filipino teachers of thousands of dollars in recruiting fees and held them in virtual servitude for keeping their visas. Some of those teachers arrived in the U.S. only to find that the promised jobs were not available. Eventually, some wound up in Avoyelles Parish and other school districts around the state. Each teacher was charged about $5,000 by Navarro in placement fees to obtain a job, and was then required to sign a contract obligating them to pay 10-percent of their second-year salaries to the company. Teachers who could not afford to pay the fees up front were directed to loan companies by Navarro, and were charged exorbitant interest rates.

• A Florida couple pleaded guilty on September 17 to conspiring to hold 39 Filipino employees against their will working in country clubs and hotels. The US Justice Department said Sophia Manuel, 41, and Alfonso Baldonado Jr., 45, were owners of a labor contracting service based in the Florida city of Boca Raton.
Manuel and Baldonado promised the workers high wages and two to three years of steady work in the United States, then had the workers pay “substantial recruitment fees, including their airfare,” which put them in debt to their US-based employers.
 Once the workers were in the United States, the defendants “compelled the victims’ labor and services through threats to have the workers arrested and deported, knowing the workers faced serious economic harm and possible incarceration for non-payment of debts in the Philippines. When the workers arrived at Manuel and Baldonado’s Florida residence, the couple confiscated their passports and “housed them in overcrowded, substandard conditions without adequate food or drinking water; put them to work at area country clubs and hotels for little or no pay; required them to remain in the defendants’ service, unpaid, when there was insufficient work.”

• POEA Administrator Jennifer Jardin-Manalili said the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa has received complaints from several Filipino nurses who were allegedly recruited by a recruiting agent from the US named Agerico Casey Gabriel (a.k.a. Casey Gabriel) or under the name of Medical caregiver Management. Gabriel’s modus operandi is to introduce himself as an agent of Medical Link or other legitimate US-based nurse recruiting agency. He usually holds a recruitment conference without asking any money from the victims. After gaining their trust, he then asks for money allegedly for escrow payments required for visas to “complete the process.” However, the president of Medical Link and Sam Switzer of another agency have denied any on-going recruitment for foreign nurses and any knowledge of one Agerico Casey Gabriel.

• The FBI is investigating a complaint filed by Rufino de Guzman Jr. who said he and 23 other Filipinos were recruited as seasonal worker for a big American company. They paid their recruiter $6,000 for a job contract that guaranteed a salary of $7.25 an hour. The workers arrived in the US in July. But instead of going to Virginia, where they signed contracts to become waiters, they were driven to Mississippi, where they were told to sign another contract, but not for the jobs or salaries for which they signed up. They were hired as housekeepers instead of waiters for $4.75 per room, instead of $7.25 per hour. Their new contract with Royal Hospitality Services required them to clean up to 18 rooms a day, which, De Guzman said, was close to impossible to finish. De Guzman said the recruiters confiscated their passports and threatened to have them deported if they resisted the new jobs.

Donn Duero, welfare officer of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in the US who is currently based in Los Angeles, said that one of the avenues used by illegal recruiters to bring in Filipino workers into the US is the H2B visa (temporary workers and trainees/seasonal agricultural workers), He said that in 2007, a total of 2,480 Filipinos entered the US using an H2B visa; 3,684 in 2008; and 1,870 in 2009.
Duero, who is helping De Guzman while awaiting investigation of his complaint against his recruiters, is asking others with similar problems to contact his office.
OWWA E-mail: Phone: (661) 878-6149 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (661) 878-6149      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

I am aghast at the courage of these illegal recruiters to challenge the tough laws of the United States against human smuggling and trafficking. I am amazed that despite strict rules and regulations imposed by the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security, these recruiters have been able to forge documents and smuggle these workers into the country.

And I thought it could happen only to workers being recruited for Middle East and Southeast Asia, where tens of thousands of Filipinos have to suffer physical, emotional and sexual abuse from employers because of cruel deception by illegal recruiters, and where tens of thousands more are stranded because there was no work waiting for them and they have no money to go back home.

And that’s only one side of the problem. Think of the parents and other relatives who had to pawn or sell properties, get loans at usurious rates, and borrow from friends and relatives. Think of the pain and frustration that these soul-less illegal recruiters are inflicting on their victims and the victims’ families. Think of the vanished dreams and the shattered future.

What is even more revolting is that the recruiters in the Philippines are never prosecuted despite the rampant crimes that they commit. The US State Department 2010 Trafficking in Person (TIP) report said of the 228 human trafficking cases reported by law enforcement agencies to the Philippine Department of Justice, only eight individuals in five sex trafficking cases were actually convicted, and that includes two persons who remain at large.

A major hindrance, the report said, was “widespread corruption” and “an inefficient judicial system” that severely limits prevention and prosecution of cases.

“Corruption remained pervasive in the Philippines, and there were reports that officials in government units and agencies assigned to enforce laws against human trafficking permitted trafficking offenders to conduct illegal activities, either tacitly or explicitly,” it added.

The US State Department urged the government to work harder in efficiently investigating, prosecuting and convicting both labor and sex trafficking offenders involved in the trafficking of Filipinos in the country and abroad. It is widely believed that some government officials partner with traffickers and organized trafficking syndicates, or at least permit trafficking operations in the country, and that law enforcement officers often extract protection money from illegal businesses, including brothels, the State Department report added.
The desperation and willingness of Filipinos to pay huge sums for uncertain jobs are a testament to the failure of the Philippine government to provide jobs to its people.

The continued exodus of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos yearly to find better jobs in countries all over the world remains unabated and the government seems to encourage them despite the risks that these Filipinos face and the adverse social and emotional impact that the departures leave on the workers’ families.

Just like it should in jueteng, the Aquino administration must show its resolve to eradicate the problem of human trafficking and illegal recruitment. The country owes so much to overseas Filipino workers, whose nearly $20-billion annual remittance has been buoying up the Philippine economy for decades. It is only fair and proper that the government protect them from these predators. They deserve no less.


Monday, September 27, 2010

The Sino-American Conflict is Inevitable?

by Erick San Juan

More than ten years ago, I wrote an article with a quite similar title that was published in one of our local papers, and this time around with another reason to be concerned about is the growing tension (again) between these two superpowers when it comes to geo-economics. We (and the rest of the world) are thankful enough that for the past decade since I wrote that article, the conflict was averted.

A lot of changes occurred in the field of firepower amongst strong nations and I am referring to hi-tech nuclear weapons’ unimaginable power that can annihilate huge areas with just a push of a button. Currently there are several IRBMs with nuclear warheads that were deployed and installed in the Asian NATO and unfortunately, the ICBMs installed here in our country will serve as a magnet during that regional conflict between the US and China, whether we like it or not.

This was carried out via the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), an agreement that was asked to be reviewed and if possible, terminated by several senators since the Arroyo administration. The VFA review did not materialize then because the Philippines was and still is, with Uncle Sam in his fight against global terrorism. Several pressures were sent to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through some high ranking US officials that “ Washington was happy with the VFA and there’s no need for renegotiation or review.”

Every time there is a clamor to review the VFA, we noticed that bomb threats and actual bombings particularly in the south, take place (translation – a false flag operation to justify the presence of US troops and the retention of the VFA). But this time, we just cannot afford to swallow such excuse and be apathetic in the midst of a serious global turbulence right here in our region where China and U.S.have both already established several chokepoints as preparation for a regional conflict.

The forthcoming working visit of President Benigno Aquino III to the U.S. is very significant because he will attend the UN General Assembly and also the meeting of the ASEAN plus the US . With the ongoing saber rattling, the United Nations should make the necessary preemptive move. Although China claims that it’s a regional problem that can be resolve by stake holders without the meddling of the U.S. If China do not want US, why not the ASEAN seek the help of probably India or Russia , who are big nations that cannot be bullied by neither of the contending giants.The NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) could also also be of help in pacifying the two nuclear giants.

As for P-Noy, he must listen to those who know a lot about international dealings based on geo-strategical perspective when it comes to the VFA issue, if ever he will have to meet US President Barack Obama. It is quite clear that the Filipino nation cannot afford to be the next battleground of the superpowers.

We hope and pray that the coming gathering of nations who subscribe to world peace and security, address this crucial issue and intervene to deter the impending Third World War.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How jueteng draws are rigged (VIDEO)

by Jing Castañeda
from ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines – A man involved in jueteng operations confirms the illegal numbers game is rigged.
In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News, “Lito” (not his real name) gave a step-by-step account of how jueteng draws are manipulated to ensure that only those with low bets win the game.
Lito has been in-charge of jueteng draws for 17 years.

According to Lito, they choose combinations with the least number of bets. If a combination has numerous bettors, then the combination cannot win.

“Kapag malaki ang taya, malaki ang tatamaan sa bangka,” Lito says.
Lito says the secret lies in the “bulantik” or the bottle containing small balls with different numbers.
The bettors do not know that there’s actually a small compartment inside the bulantik. Two balls are hidden inside the compartment, with the numbers chosen to win the game.

A plastic pipe is used to close the compartment and ensure that the balls remain hidden.
Lito says the two balls are put inside the “bulantik” even before the draw begins. What is shown to the bettors is how the other balls are placed inside the bulantik.

The cap is turned once more and another lock is activated to keep the other balls inside the bottle, and only the two balls in the secret compartment will come out.

“Kahit anong alog, wala nang lalabas. Malaki talaga ang daya,” he reveals.

Lito adds the Small Town Lottery (SLT) can kill jueteng operations for as long as there is a clear directive from the President, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and local officials, and the police follow the order.

Click here to watch video >> ‘Bolero’ details cheat technique in jueteng

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Government can and should regulate broadcast media

by William M. Esposo
from The Philippine Star

The September 14 Senate Public Information Committee Hearing, where ABS-CBN, GMA Network, ABC-5 and RMN resource persons were questioned over their respective roles during the Manila Hostage Crisis of August 23, revealed vital information that the public must know.

Most people are unaware that there is a big difference between the print and the broadcast media which operate under Congressional franchises and are thus subject to the State’s rules and regulations. Other than complying with business regulations, print media are not bound by the rules and regulations that Congressional franchises impose on broadcast media.

Senator Joker Arroyo ably pointed out these distinctions and even cited the following three provisions (Sections 4, 5 and 9) that are found on a Congressional franchise like that of Republic Act 7966 which is the franchise of ABS-CBN:

SECTION 4. Responsibility to the Public — The grantee shall provide adequate public service time to enable the government, through the said broadcasting stations, to reach the population on important public issues; provide at all times sound and balanced programming; promote public participation such as in community programming; assist in the functions of public information and education; conform to the ethics of honest enterprise; and not use its stations for the broadcasting of obscene and indecent language, speech, act or scene, or for the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation to the detriment of the public interest, or to incite, encourage, or assist in subversive or treasonable acts.

SECTION 5. Right of Government — A special right is hereby reserved to the President of the Philippines, in times of rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster or disturbance of peace and order, to temporarily take over and operate the stations of the grantee, to temporarily suspend the operation of any station in the interest of public safety, security and public welfare, or to authorize the temporary use and operation thereof by any agency of the government, upon due compensation to the grantee, for the use of the said stations during the period when they shall be so operated.

SECTION 9. Self-regulation by and Undertaking of Grantee — The grantee shall not require any previous censorship of any speech, play, act or scene, or other matter to be broadcast and/or telecast from its stations: provided, that the grantee, during any broadcast and/or telecast, shall cut off from the air the speech, play, act or scene, or other matter being broadcast and/or telecast if the tendency thereof is to propose and/or incite treason, rebellion or sedition; or the language used therein or the theme thereof is indecent or immoral, and willful failure to do so shall constitute a valid cause for the cancellation of this franchise.

The State is well within its right to impose these aforementioned provisions because broadcast media operate with the use of the airwaves which only the government can grant to franchisees. Government cannot impose these provisions on print media which operate sans a government franchise. Print media are accountable for violations cited in the Penal Code — such as cases of libel, slander, defamation of character and so forth.
While there is no specific mention of rules for the handling of a hostage crisis in Section 9 of the said broadcast franchise, ABS-CBN and the other networks cannot claim not to know that they should not be airing live the tactical operations of the police and the military owing to previous experiences during broadcast coverage of the coup attempts against the Cory Aquino administration as well as the more recent Makati Peninsula Hotel incident. The Manila Crisis Committee may have been remiss in reminding media about these guidelines but that does not excuse the media from the violations.

Many of the questions and issues that were raised by the Senators during the hearing were directed to Maria Ressa of ABS-CBN. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile appeared to have the benefit of inside information when he grilled Ressa about an alleged discussion between her and the network news and public affairs managers on the pros and cons of covering live the Manila Hostage Crisis tactical operation. Ressa denied the discussion ever happened. Enrile even dropped the name of Beth Frondoso, a network producer whom ABS-CBN sources said became the focal point of a big controversy some time ago which resulted in the resignation of Luchi Cruz Valdes, now with ABC-5.

Senators Enrile and Joker Arroyo alternated in questioning Ressa on her having provided ­ the live footages of the Manila Hostage Crisis which the two Senators claimed ruined the country’s image abroad and her September 10 “Noynoy flunks his first test” Asia Wall Street Journal article. You have to admire Maria Ressa for her ability to react to such big issues as if she is the “Pontiff of Media” — sounding every bit like she firmly holds the high ground.
The network representatives did admit in varying degrees that they did err in their live coverage of the Manila Hostage Crisis. They are lucky that the Senators are still opting to give them the chance to craft their guidelines for future similar crises coverage. They should undertake this among themselves instead of compelling the legislators to formulate these guidelines as well as the corresponding penalties for its violations.
While the government is at it, they should also look into the current state of Philippine television which had pandered, for too long and too much, to what adds to its revenues – but to the point of reducing its bigger, more important public service mandate. Philippine free TV is too much concentrated on providing entertainment when there is a glaring Information Gap that is plaguing many Filipinos.

The government is well within its right to mandate that television networks should prioritize the servicing of the biggest needs of the Filipino people. If the government wants to, it can even issue guidelines that will compel broadcast franchisees to allocate specific hours for developmental programming. The airwaves belong to the people and their biggest needs should first be addressed by the TV networks.
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Chair Wrecker email and website: and

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Double Whammy Hits Puno

By Perry Diaz

Little did Rico E. Puno realize that when he joined the administration of his longtime friend president Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III, he would find himself the target of the Department of Justice’s investigation concerning the Luneta hostage crisis and also accused of receiving payola — or protection money — from gambling lords. What the hell happened?

Less than three months ago, Puno was as virtual unknown in Philippine government and politics. He was one of P-Noy’s closest friends and they share a common interest as gun enthusiasts.

“Shooting buddies”

So, it did not come as a surprise when P-Noy asked his trusted “shooting buddy” to work for him. And what a better place to put him than in a plum position overseeing the 120,000 gun-toting policemen of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Puno’s appointment as undersecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) was made before P-Noy could decide on his choice for secretary of DILG. To fill the void, P-Noy took over the top post at DILG temporarily while he was mulling over whom to appoint from a pool of three candidates. With himself as ad interim secretary and Puno overseeing security matters, the “shooting buddies” were ready to roll.

A few days later, P-Noy appointed former Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo as DILG secretary. However, he made it clear that his “point man” for the “Interior” — security matters – side of DILG would be Puno; thus, limiting Robredo to the “Local Government” side of DILG. It effectively split DILG into two agencies. Although Puno administratively reported to Robredo, P-Noy was just a phone call away. It was an “arrangement” that gave comfort to P-Noy knowing that his “shooting buddy” would take a bullet for him should things go wrong.

Indeed, Puno must really be enjoying his new role keeping an eye on police matters. He was on top of the world. Then, suddenly the world turned upside down… and all hell broke loose!

Luneta bloodbath

At 10:00 AM on August 23, 2010, Rolando Mendoza, a dismissed senior inspector in the Manila Police Department, hijacked a tourist bus carrying 25 Chinese tourists from Hong Kong. Eleven hours later, after a botched rescue operation by an “elite” SWAT team, eight tourists were murdered by the hostage-taker and the hostage-taker was fatally shot by police sniper fire.

The incident put P-Noy in an awkward and embarrassing position for being “invisible” during the hostage-taking episode which was televised worldwide. His leadership was questioned and many believed that he failed the first test of his presidency. Also “invisible” were Puno and then PNP chief Jesus Verzosa who, in the midst of the hostage crisis, flew to Cagayan de Oro to attend a “function.” Robredo was around in the periphery but was not involved directly in the negotiation with the hostage-taker.

In the aftermath of the Luneta bloodbath, a “lynch mob” in the administration singled out Robredo for the fiasco and tried to “hang” him. But Robredo defended himself saying that he was “not in the loop,” claiming that it was Puno who was given sole authority and responsibility over police matters.

Consequently, P-Noy ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to conduct a fact-finding investigation and promised that “heads will roll.” De Lima then formed the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC), which included Robredo and three others.

Jueteng payola exposed

Then, in an unrelated incident on September 11, 2010, retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz dropped a “bombshell” right in front of Malacañang Palace alleging that two trusted aides of P-Noy were each receiving P2 million monthly payola from jueteng lords. While he refused to name names saying that he would do it at the right forum, ABS-CBN published the names of the two officials who allegedly were receiving jueteng payola: DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno and just retired PNP Chief Jesus Verzosa. ABS-CBN’s sources claimed that Puno and Verzosa were receiving as much as P5 million a month given in tranches –every 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of the month.

Last September 15, P-Noy told reporters, “I still have confidence in him [Puno] but I will talk to him as soon as I get back to Manila and I’ll ask him about these allegations and see what his responses are.” Puno denied the allegations. However, he indicated that he was willing to resign his post or be reassigned to spare P-Noy from further embarrassment.

P-Noy also said that his officials are now looking into the jueteng scandal and was just waiting for their report. He also revealed that investigators are looking into the alleged involvement of Verzosa and the new PNP chief Raul Bacalzo.

Last September 17, the IIRC completed its work and submitted its recommendations to P-Noy. The report cited 12 persons and three networks. Puno and Verzosa were named in the report. In a press conference prior to his departure for the United States, P-Noy said, “The report is recommendatory in nature. I have forwarded it, and its recommendations, to a legal team composed of the Executive Secretary and the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel to make a thorough review of the IIRC’s recommendations.” He added that he’ll study their findings upon his return and then make his decision.

Last September 21, the Senate started its own fact-finding investigation on the jueteng payola issue. Called to testify, Archbishop Cruz identified Puno and Verzosa as the recipients of “national jueteng payola flow.” Cruz also named the following as suspected jueteng lords in their areas: Pampanga governor Lilia “Baby” Pineda; Paul Dy in Isabela; retired general Eugene Martin; Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan; Danny Soriano in Cagayan; a retired general Padilla (involved in Pasay, Parañaque, Muntinlupa and San Pedro); Pangasinan governor Amado Espino; and, a certain Boy Jalandoni in Bacolod. Pineda is married to the reputed “Jueteng King” — Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda — who was investigated by Congress in 1998, 2000, and 2005. However, nothing came out of those investigations.

Double whammy

The hostage crisis and the jueteng payola scandal hit Puno like a double whammy. While he is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, it’s the opposite in the court of public opinion; that is, he is guilty until proven innocent. It all boils down to perception and in politics perception is reality.

The bottom line is: The jueteng payola scandal could be the defining moment of P-Noy’s presidency. For as long as jueteng thrives, his mantra, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (No corruption, no poverty), would be hollow and meaningless. Either he eradicates jueteng — as he promised during the campaign — or jueteng would spell doom to his anti-corruption crusade.

At the end of the day, Puno can protect his “shooting buddy” by falling on the sword. That would be a noble act. That is also the price of true friendship.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An open letter to the HongKong and PRC People

To the Hongkong and PRC People, 

You hate the Filipino people for the hostage fiasco that unfortunate incident that went out of control at the end. This was a hostage situation that was under control and which netted 7 Chinese tourists to be released upon the efforts of our policemen.

You appear and sound sanctimonious and have even stepped upon our sovereignty. You have demanded apology, the moon and the heavens. You hate the Filipino people as if we wanted this unfortunate incident to happen. First and foremost, we offer our condolences to the families of the 8 that were killed in this incident. Secondly, we are sorry for the bungled handling of this hostage taking. It was unfortunate, it was an accident, we never planned it that way. Is it fair to blame a whole nation for a situation that was never planned?

Let me ask you this question, "Should we hate you also for the lead poisoning caused by the paint you used in your baby furniture and toys for the children of the world? Should we hate you also for the use of cardboard in the "siopao" that you sell to tourists? Should we hate you also for the  melamine contamination wherein not 8, but hundreds, maybe even thousands have suffered and some even died?

Or, let us talk of Filipino casualties. A few years ago, 3 Filipino tourists, all surnamed Madrigal, a family of 5 were walking on Tienanmen Square and Beijing. One Chinese stabbed the father and two of his children, killing all three. Were you even sorry for what this one Chinese did? Did the Filipino people even demand that China apologized for this unfortunate incident. This was PRE-MEDITATED MURDER.

Just as the use of lead, cardboard, melamine was pre-meditated - used because they were cheaper materials, in order to generate PROFITS for the Chinese businessmen. Did you pay damages the same way you are demanding damages from the Filipino nation and people?

Where was the anger of the Chinese and Hongkong people? Did you even apologize to the world? My God in the case of melamine, you even kept this information from the world, until you were exposed for what you are!!!

Enough! We sympathize but don't blame the Filipino people.

So you want to send our OFWs home, that take care of your children? They play an important part in your lives. Both spouses are able to work, earn money because of the tender loving care being heaped on your children by Filipino maids and yayas/amahs. While you pay our OFWs for the work they do, you earn more for the love and care they bestow on your children. Go ahead, send our OFWs home. Let us see how that will affect your family incomes.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Philippine Daily Inquirer
August 5, 2010

TO HIS impressive resumé, Public Works Secretary Rogelio "Babes" Singson can now add an unfortunate and unenviable distinction: He is the first Aquino Cabinet member to be directly accused of illegal conduct. Unnamed sources in the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System have accused him of pushing a "midnight deal," while he was still chief executive of Maynilad Water, with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. when it was under close Arroyo administration ally Ephraim Genuino.

As it turns out, the accusations don't hold much water. The deal was begun in February 2009, a full year before the 2010 campaign period started and the alleged opportunity cost for the national government is an estimate based on a controversial legal interpretation. Singson himself, on the instructions of President Aquino, conducted a news conference where he explained himself on every single accusation. This is not to say the matter is already a closed book, but what a refreshing change from secretive officials of the previous dispensation!

It is not hard to divine the motives of the MWSS sources, or indeed of other Singson critics who have started to surface. In the first month of the Aquino administration, Singson has emerged as the President's unlikely point man against corruption.

Mr. Aquino himself hinted at this, when he praised Singson twice in his first State of the Nation Address, for uncovering or stopping consummated or continuing irregularities.

This is, any observer of Philippine politics must admit, a most unusual circumstance. Survey after survey has shown that, in public perception, the Department of Public Works and Highways ranks as one of the three most corrupt government agencies. With a budget (this fiscal year) of P126 billion, it is easy to see why.

To be sure, anti-corruption initiatives in the DPWH have been tried before. There is even a resident ombudsman. But by both formal and informal accounts, "leakages" (the euphemism for public funds lost through corruption) continue to stain the department's reputation.

Now comes a public works secretary who apparently believes in the President's campaign promise to fight corruption, and means what he says. Thus, we are treated to a news conference where Singson taunts his own resident ombudsman, who, he says, may have been pretending to sleep while many crimes were taking place under his nose.

We are encouraged by a government official taking on the very vested interests that populate his department: the influential contractors themselves. Singson told ABS-CBN that he had found at least 19 anomalous contracts. "Nineteen negotiated contracts were entered into [on] June 18. These were concluded, negotiated, [the DPWH] identified who were the contractors, and signed off. Yet the SARO [Special Allotment Release Order], the allotment release by the Department of Budget and Management, was only issued June 25. So the contracts were signed even before the letter of authority was released."

We are tantalized by the sight of a Cabinet secretary taking the battle right into his own territory, so to speak. Singson mused aloud that the authority that district engineers
and regional directors enjoyed may have been one of the causes of the many anomalies. He also said that he expects to reassign or relieve maybe a third of all his department employees. "I've made a proposal. Not all will be reshuffled, some should no longer be appointed."

Not least, we are heartened by the example of a public officer who returns public funds to the national treasury, to the tune of P17 billion, because "we don't really need it."

The amount is not exactly loose change; as Singson himself described it, the total was equivalent to the budget of the Department of Transportation and Communication. Beyond the value of the excess funds in absolute terms, the return of the money demonstrates Singson's overriding belief that more can be done by the DPWH (better quality bridges, roads that actually connect farm to market, and so on) with less money.

We realize it is still too early to tell whether Singson's daring experiment in fearless, no-nonsense public service will actually work, but we know he deserves the public's open support.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The ‘Hulidap’ Cops Strike Again!

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

Two Mexicans are on a bicycle about 15 miles outside of Phoenix, Arizona. One of the bike’s tires goes flat and they try hitching a lift back into town.

A friendly trucker stops to see if he can help, and the Mexicans ask him for a ride. He tells them he has no room in the trailer as he is carrying 20,000 bowling balls.

The Mexicans ask the driver that if they can manage to fit into the back with their bike, will he take them back into town and he agrees. They manage to squeeze themselves and their bike into the back and the driver shuts the doors and gets on his way.

By this time he is really late and so he puts the hammer down and sure enough, a blonde cop pulls him over for speeding. The lady officer asks the driver what he’s carrying, to which the driver jokingly replies, “Mexican eggs.”

The Blonde Lady Cop obviously doesn’t believe this so she wants to take a look in the trailer.
She opens the back door and quickly shuts it and locks it. She gets on her radio and calls for immediate backup from as many officers as possible plus the SWAT Team.

The dispatcher asks what emergency she has that require so many officers. “I’ve got a Tractor-Trailer stopped with 20,000 Mexican eggs in it. Two have hatched and they’ve already managed to steal a bicycle!”

Two Manila Police SWAT cops vacationing in Phoenix hear the radio alert from the dispatcher and rush to the crime scene. They shoot the two Mexicans and take off with the load leaving behind the driver and the blonde lady cop. Then they call the Mexican government demanding $20 million ransom for the Mexican eggs. The “hulidap” cops strike again!*
Lately, the Manila Police has been getting a bad rap because of “hulidap” — false arrest (huli) and holdup — capers pulled off by dirty cops. The “hulidap” modus operandi works this way: One or more “hulidap” cops would make a false arrest in which the “suspect” (victim) is nabbed for drug or any other crime. The “hulidap” cops would then extort money from the “suspect” for his freedom.

Manila Police was once known as “Manila’s Finest.” Well, after the tragicomedic spectacle that the SWAT team made of itself during the hostage-taking incident — viewed on TV by millions worldwide — at the Luneta, Manila Police is now known as “Manila’s Funniest.” At one time, the SWAT cops who surrounded the hijacked tourist bus full of Hong Kong Chinese tourists threw tear gas canisters inside the bus. Then one of the “funny” cops — like Rambo — jumped in through the broken rear window. A few seconds later, he was crying and shouting for help cuz he forgot to wear a gas mask. Yup, the “funny” cops were like the “gang that couldn’t shoot straight.”


Congressman Dr. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao showed that he is not just a great boxer, he can also read a great speech… written for him. Speaking at the alumni homecoming at the Silliman University, Dr. Pacquiao said, “There’s an eagle inside us waiting to be developed.” Then he shared his vision: “I want to be remembered, not just a world class boxer, but as a passionate servant leader. Champions are not afraid of storm, winners are not afraid of problems, leaders are not afraid of challenges, lawyers are not afraid of arguments while eagles do not only survive in the boxing ring, they win world titles. They do not only deliver speeches, they deliver services.”

I must commend Dr. Pacquiao — he was conferred an honorary doctorate on “something” a few years ago — for selecting an excellent ghost writer. In politics, great leaders are created by their ghost writers.

The upcoming Junior Middleweight world championship fight on November 13, 2010 between “Mexicutioner” Dr. Pacquiao and Mexican champion Antonio Margarito is going to be a spectacular fight. And if Dr. Pacquiao wins, it will be his eight world title in eight weight divisions. All Dr. Pacquiao has to do is draw his strength from the 90 million Pinoys who look up to him as their living hero — an eagle that has developed to its fullest. Yup, the Philippine Eagle has finally landed. Go Pacman go!

My investigative reporter told me that rumor has it that Congress will recess on November 13 in anticipation of a “no-quorum” situation. Yup, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the congressmen, their wives, significant partners, “queridas” and “kabits” are flying to Texas to root for Dr. Pacquiao. And they should all pay Dona Dionisia Pacquiao a call at her penthouse suite the night before the fight.
President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s alter ego, Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr., was seen drunk as skunk a few days after the Luneta bloodbath. The following is an excerpt from a Newsbreak report:

“According to people who saw him at around 2 a.m. of Friday last week, Ochoa was very drunk at the lobby of the Manila Peninsula, oblivious to the other few guests who were still there, and apparently unmindful of what the rest of the grieving and depressed metropolis was feeling in the aftermath of the bloody hostage [crisis] at the Luneta. 

“According to Newsbreak informants, Ochoa was slumped in a chair at the lobby, having the grand time of his life with a popular singer-actress, who was with two lady friends. Malacañang security aides hovered around while their boss continued to drink with his lady guests. 

“Our informants were shocked to see him there. ‘At the very least, it’s so unbecoming of a Little President. He should have been more circumspect,’ they said.” (end of report)

P-Noy should remember that the “bottle” was what really cost former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada his presidency. If you mix the spirit from the “bottle” with the power of the presidency, it could produce an elixir that would give you an illusion of “absolute power.” And to paraphrase Lord Acton, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” While Jojo is merely the “Little President,” a lot of people see him as tall as the President. And together they cast a giant shadow.


*The “Two Mexicans” story was taken from the Internet. I added the last part of the story about the vacationing “hulidap” cops.